Life after the end of exchange semester

I am finally done with the Erasmus experience. Moving here to Poland a year ago has been a roller-coaster experience. During my first few months, I loved it, loved the new culture, my ears enjoyed listening to the Polish language, loved the low prices and loved exploring. Now after a year, although I still love being here, I have realized how lonely it can get sometimes without a group of regular friends. I never knew that my life would move so fast especially after moving here. I enjoy it most of the times, but sometimes I just want everything to pause for a while and start again.

Erasmus exchange, famed for its mindless drinking parties, friendships/hook-ups between the 20-somethings and a supposed life-changing experience, didn’t turn out to be any of those for me. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about attending all events and parties and quickly felt left out as the first few weeks passed by. I do have a few Erasmus friends here whom I see every once in a while, but I could never relate to the tears and goodbyes everybody felt before leaving. My quiet personality and lack of same-nationality friends might have contributed in so.

I did meet a few interesting people and we shared some good conversations. As I get to know myself better, I am completely unable to take part in petty conversations. I have strong opinions and a range of topics to talk about, and I can imagine how quickly it would bore some most people. At times like these, going on without speaking your language for a year, spending most of the times with just one person (boyfriend), makes me really miss home. Or I guess I rather miss being around a few Nepalese people, at least. When I first went to Finland, I was stunned by the number of Nepalese students in such a small town. At the classes, there was no joy of introducing yourself as a Nepalese because the rest of the foreign and Finnish students had already met a lot of us and made a mental picture based on their first impressions. Sometimes I felt like getting away. I wanted to meet more diverse people and have more diverse conversations. It’s only natural, because I heard the same from some Vietnamese students (approx 75% population in the business group at uni). Hence, coming to Poland was a breath of fresh air.

Never did I imagine that I would actually miss having some Nepalese people around. I can only credit this to the unsatisfactory nature of humans. It frustrates me to think that I, like most of my species, always find a reason to be unsatisfied about. I still am on a path of discovering what truly makes me happy. But then again 21 might be a young age to have all life planned out. I have developed coping mechanisms to fight homesickness which I didn’t feel until 3 years abroad. I feel like I am in the crossroads because I do know that moving back to Nepal is not going to make me happy either. With my almost 22 years of existence, I can at least guarantee that life is really full of surprises, sometimes even the unpleasant ones.

Now that I am done with the semester, I have to complete the remaining college work (thesis) before I am able to graduate. I never knew (and my manager who hired me) that the abrupt job interview I went to last November would be the start of the endless, tiring process of obtaining a work permit. All I am asked for is more and more paperwork, until they can decide if I am apt for work permit. It’s been a month and I am still submitting paperwork with little idea about the outcome. These are the times when I think how place of birth determines almost everything in life. If I were an EU citizen, I would be entitled to move and work anywhere within EU borders. I do understand that it is the rule that a non-EU person has to comply to, but it’s hard to be patient at all times. If everything goes well, I am going to start working soon as my work contract has already started. Experience in Polish offices has been so different from Finnish bureaucracy. The process here is not as swift and computerized as in Finland, and hence slow. I wonder what I’d do here if I didn’t speak the language, because even in office for foreigners, I have sometimes heard the announcements only in Polish. It is really a near-miracle to find locals with fluent English language skills. Rounding the government offices here so often reminds me a bit of Nepali government offices (to where I absolutely loathed going) where the environment is so lax and work is painfully slow.

As I am waiting anxiously for the decision, I’m reminded that I do not have strong back-up plans if I’m denied the permit. Listening to gloomy numbers by Damien Rice and alike day in and out doesn’t help my situation that well either. I have to be optimistic, if only it were that easy.

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5 thoughts on “Life after the end of exchange semester

  1. Exchange for me wasn’t as exciting as it was for everyone else either. Maybe because I had already spent a year in China before that, maybe because I moved to this new country (Denmark) for a semester to be with my boyfriend, maybe because I had his family. Life in Denmark was hard, fun, social and everything else and also filled with parties, but I don’t miss those days so much. You’ll be alright moving on too, I can read.

    It’s interesting being the only one from your country, hey? I was the only Australian I knew for almost two years, but this year two other Australians moved to Greenland to stay for a longer time basis. I never thought I would miss it, but I admit that it’s been really fun to be part of that small community, also because we are not overwhelming the city we live in like for example in London. It makes me happy to call myself Australian.

    1. Yes, exactly! It’s nice to have a small community as long as it’s not overwhelming the city like you said. I hope I will meet some Nepalese people soon, maybe I haven’t done enough research in this big city! 🙂

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